Aug. 10, 2017
Yes, boys and girls, Moms and Dads, it's that time again. Get ready to pack for college! I hear both shrieks of joy and groans out there. The joy comes from collegians; the groans from parents.
Granted, some college students don't want to return to campus. The thought of academic pressure or returning to a campus that they view with, at best, lukewarm affection can be off-putting. Alternatively, some parents are counting the days until they have the house back to themselves and no longer have to have their sleep interrupted by the wee-hours returns of their sons and daughters. So, the joy and groans can work both ways.
In past posts here about packing for college, I've noted the sheer volume differences between how guys pack, compared to the girls' approaches. An epoch analogy might be Spartan vs. Baroque. Or, Functional vs. (possibly) frivolous. Backpack vs. steamer trunk. Volkswagen vs. Rolls-Royce.
So, I did the requisite research to see what current thoughts about collegiate packing are out there, and have chosen a few interesting, if not practical, highlights from all the links that came back to me. Ready. Set. Pack!
First, selections from some quite practical advice from Reader's Digest:
Trust us, you are NOT going to want to eat in the dorm cafeteria every day. Your fridge is gonna be a lifesaver on campus—but whether you fill it with healthy snacks or leftover pizza is up to you!
2. Washer & Dryer
Nobody likes the smelly guy on campus. Between messy late-night partying and sweaty sprints to class the next morning, you're gonna need to pack a reliable washer/dryer combo to keep things fresh.
3. Grandfather Clock
Maybe this way you won't be late to EVERY class.
4. Spare Truck Tires
Whether it's a weekend trip to clear your head or a quick run to Costco for toilet paper, getting off campus every once in a while will be a must. You'll want at least one or two extra sets of high-quality truck tires with an A or AA traction rating.
5. Classical Harp
There's no quicker way to attract new friends and up your social status than by dragging this baby out on the quad for an impromptu jam session.
6. Massive Limestone Cube
You never know!
7. Your Parents
The two absolute must-haves for your first year away from home. Your parents can help you cook, clean, remain on task, and stay away from negative influences—the recipe for college success. Have fun, and don't study TOO hard!
– Keep it simple! Put their hanging clothes on a rod, put the rod in the car, and carry the rod up to the dorm room. Then it's super simple to put the hanging clothes in their new dorm closet.
– Make sure you and your college student are in agreement about who gets to see what – have the proxy access discussion before tuition bills … or grades are released.
– Many colleges will have volunteers waiting for you to arrive on Freshman Move-In Day. The students will swarm your car, empty it, and carry everything up to the dorm room. IT IS AWESOME! Be ready for them by labeling everything with name and room number.
– Just send them with one set of sheets. They can wash (yeah, right) and put right back on their bed. This will save valuable dorm room storage space – can anyone really fold a fitted sheet anyway?
– Remember to pack the fun stuff they love to do. All work and no play doesn't sound like college to me!
“Make sure you weigh your suitcase and pack it well," says Alyssa Fountain, a student at Pacific Lutheran University. “The worst thing that can happen is to have to repack your suitcases in the middle of the airport or find that you can't bring something that's important." Fountain has been a world traveler since she was 7 years old and her family moved from the United States to Uganda. “I flew back to the U.S. for college, which was a very interesting experience since I had to fit everything I owned into a 50-pound suitcase."
Having to fit your whole life into a couple of bags is hard, so focus on the essentials. The easiest way to know what your essentials are is to keep a running list of everything you use for several days. Then, cross off all the toiletries, dishes and linens. You should be left with clothes, shoes, electronics and other random favorites.
You aren't moving to the Sahara Desert: chances are your college town will have a Target or Bed Bath and Beyond, so don't pack towels and shampoo. Save the space for something you can't buy when you get there.
Packing the essentials is step one. Then pack your favorite one-of-a-kind items. Don't go crazy, but putting a few pictures or favorite posters in your luggage is OK. Anything you cannot buy at a store is fair game to bring along with you, but note: if it's between underwear and a poster? Take the underwear. Once you've got everything down to a minimum, don't buy too much. You're at school, keep your life simple – especially since you'll continue to move around for a couple years. Fountain, even as a senior in college now, keeps her possessions to a minimum. It helps when she has to move. “At this point, I think I could still pack up and move with only two 50-pound suitcases," she says.
Keep in mind you'll probably go back home at least once – if not twice – during the school year. You'll have Thanksgiving and winter breaks to go back home and grab clothes for the next season.
When those long breaks come around, pack up the clothes you're done using and switch them out for the next season's clothes when you get home. It'll prevent you from collecting clothes in your dorm and stressing when summer comes and you need to move out. If you find yourself needing something and you can't head home for a break, have your parents mail you things throughout the year (don't forget to say “please!"). Plus, getting packages from home will feel like opening a present every time.
When the year is over, don't pack up and try to get everything back home. Instead, rent a storage locker for any posters or furniture you bought through the year and just take clothes and essentials home with you. You can save money by renting a storage locker with friends or using your friend's parents' garage who live in a nearby city. Local families want to help students who travel – take them up on it! Remember: your parents have shampoo, conditioner, soap and toothpaste. There's no need to pack the “essentials" like you're going on a safari. You're going home so ditch the extra weight.
– Alarm clock
– Blanket, comforter, linens (extra long twin, two sets), mattress pad and cover, pillows
– All-purpose wardrobe (weather in Gambier ranges from hot to cold):
– T-shirts, tops, jeans, casual clothes
– Sweatshirts/pullovers are useful in the fall and the transition to spring.
– PJs, socks, underwear
– Hangers (bring more than you think you'll need!) and other clothes storage
– Prepare for all seasons and all terrains (Middle Path can get muddy)
– Athletic shoes, comfy walking shoes, dress shoes, snow boots, etc.
– Winter supplies:
– Heavy winter coat, gloves, scarves, hats
– Rain supplies:
– Rain coat, rain boots, umbrella
– First-aid kit:
– Bandages, Neosporin, ibuprofen, prescription medications, etc.
– Surge protector (not simply an electrical or power strip — make sure that it has surge protection)
– Bathroom supplies:
– Toiletries, shower caddy, towels, washcloths, shower shoes, glasses/contacts
– Laundry supplies:
– Bag or basket, detergent, dryer sheets, quarters (machines take K-Cards and quarters: $2 for washer, $1.50 for dryer)
Finally, as you pack up the family car, van, or SUV, remember one crucial thing: Keep the pile on the roof low enough to clear all Interstate overpasses and gas station canopies. You don't want to lose that priceless Justin Bieber poster. Happy packing!
Be sure to check out all my articles at College Confidential.
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